Gardening Life

Our Fancy-Pants Pine Tree Hunt

I realized only a few days ago that it has been NINE YEARS since we last cut our own tree for Christmas. That record was finally broken today when my sister, her boyfriend, and I went up Rist Canyon and visited the Christmas Tree Ranch.

This is a few miles up from the old Davis Ranch, which was caught in the High Park fire in 2012, but is basically the same format: drive in, get directions from the down-to-earth farmer that owns the place, park where he tells you, hike up into his property through the snow, meet a trio of fuzzy huskies, pick a glittery, snow-laden fir tree, saw it down six inches to the ground, then drag it back to your pickup truck to drive out while paying at the property gate. Yes, we drove my new/used truck that I bought in September!

I think the fact that it triggered my sister’s nostalgia button combined with the obsession of the mid-20th-century post-war Christmas music and the presence of her super-cool boyfriend, Andy Rudy, made this trip amazing.

Plus we stopped on the way down to pick up my Mom and take her home to help set up and decorate. Awesome times.

That is to say, we had gone to my house first and simply set mine up in a similar stand, but left it alone. A bunch of my newer tropical plants had been waterlogged, so I was dealing with musty smells as soon as I moved their pots. But later on, after I came home from church, I stopped by a Walmart and picked up two 100-light strings of LEDs. You know those $6 boxes you can get? Well, being FAIRLY excited to finally get mine decorated too, at least minimally, I went home, turned on some music and proceeded to break out those packages.

Let me just say – LED Christmas lights are the worst. “Warm White” constitutes a putrid yellow that is just as sterile and boring as anything. Plus a PWM or something to handle the 110VAC causes this flicker, especially in the clear glass mini-bulbs that makes that feeling of throwing up even worse.

Plus my tree stand, though similar to the one I used as a kid, and the one my sister got, is the most flimsy thing I’ve ever dealt with. The bolts twisted in the stand, and once tightened into the trunk of the tree, would actually twist out of place, tearing through the bark, and letting the tree topple anyway.

Depressed and kinda sad, I shut everything down and decided I needed to not worry about it right away.

Then Monday, I stopped by a Walmart again, this time picking up 300-light strings of incandescents. One package of white, one package of multicolored. As soon as I got home, I was feeling much more hopeful, though the tree was still wanting to topple and twist. However, as soon as I put that first white string in the outlet, I was FINALLY into it. THAT was the ambiance I was looking for.

An hour later, after a bit of re-stringing due to unbalanced white vs. multicolored sections, I finally decided to call it good!

Right now, the tree still wants to topple, but the top end rests against my internal gable and is pretty stable that way.

And despite not playing music WHILE stringing this giant plant, I did turn on my old go-to afterward while playing a game, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Everything, and marathoned the full collection of converted tapes and ripped CDs of 30+ years. More than makes up for Saturday night’s debacle.

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